Non-League’s relationship with signing players from abroad and why Mario Fontanella and Jurgen Degabriele would be great additions.

With a large number of clubs becoming full time professionals throughout the Non-League pyramid, players with higher reputations are starting to drop out of the Football League to come down a level.

There are a number of sleeping giants throughout Non-League.

Eastleigh F.C. are one side who have been active throughout the season bringing in a number of players from League Two’s Barnet including former Arsenal youngster, Gavin Hoyte and 2013/14 League Two Champion, Sam Togwell.

One area Non-League sides are yet to explore fully is foreign talent from abroad. This is mainly due to the lack of scouting available overseas through budgets, and also the fact of trying to persuade players to move to England where they could possibly be playing on a cold rainy night in Yorkshire.

Some National League sides have previously signed players from abroad, Mo Fofana at Lincoln City for example, who previously played for CS Sedan, Olympique Noisy-le-Sec and La Vitréenne FC in France before joining Swedish outfit Syrianska FC.

Mo Fofana (centre) during his time with Lincoln City.

Whilst players such as Hakeem Araba have left the Non-League system to then go on to play in the Europa League, a number of foreign players are willing to do the opposite for a chance in England.

After seeing players such as Charlie Austin, Chris Smalling and most famously, Jamie Vardy go from Non-League to Premier League, this has given the impression that the Non-League pyramid is the perfect spring board for any footballer wanting to make it big.

Even if a Premier League move is not realistic then the Football League is also a desired place for any Non-League player as former FC Halifax Town forward, Lee Gregory will tell you.

Lee Gregory playing against Tottenham Hotspur.

One player who professional Non-League sides should look into is former Napoli youngster, Mario Fontanella who now plays his trade in Malta with Floriana, a side who have won the Maltese Premier League 25 times.

Fontanella operates as a striker and has scored 12 times in the league this season whilst picking up three assists in 23 appearances.

With an impressive league record making him joint second in the scoring charts, the former Napoli man has also shown fine form in the Maltese FA Trophy scoring four goals in three appearances.

Mario Fontanella (left) playing for Floriana. [Photo Credit: Jonathan Bugeja]
Fontanella, who has a wealth of experience with a number of years left in his career would be a great signing for any professional Non-League setup in both the National League as well as the North and South divisions due to there being a number of sleeping giants throughout all three leagues.

A natural goal scorer with a contract expiring in 2018, there is a possible chance to get the player on a free transfer next year if he was to not extend his current deal.

The Italian striker’s league scoring rival is Maltese youngster, Jurgen Degabriele who is also on 12 goals in the league but with 26 appearances to his name.

Degabriele is still only 20 years-old and has shown his ability over the last few seasons.

Similar to Fontanella, the forward also has an impressive FA Trophy record with one goal in one game.

His electric pace would be great for any side needing someone who can operate down the left flank.

With a contract until 2021, the player has shown his commitment to the side who he grew up at but a potential big move to England may be too good to turn down, as any Maltese footballer will tell you.

Jurgen Degabriele playing for Malta U21. [Photo Credit: Christine Borg]

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